The Design Commission has approved the Press Blocks, the redevelopment of the former Oregonian publishing buildings in Goose Hollow. The development will include three buildings, spread over one and a half city blocks. The project is developed in partnership by Urban Renaissance Group and Security Properties. The architects are Portland based GBD Architects and Seattle based Mithun.
The existing buildings on the site were built for the Oregonian as its main printing facility. In 2015 it was announced that Advance Central Publications, the company which now prints and distributes the Oregonian, would outsource printing of the newspaper. With the buildings no longer needed, they were put up for sale. The $20 million sale closed in February 2017.
The full block site at 1621 SW Taylor Street is being designed by Mithun, and will include a 250’ tall residential tower and a 55′-2″’ tall office building. The 23 story tower will include 337 residential units, while the lower plaza building will include 41,500 sq ft of office space. The ground floor programming of the two buildings includes commercial lease space facing the exterior streets, and live/work units facing the alley. Parking for ±469 cars will be provided in four levels of underground parking.
The two buildings are oriented in a north/south configuration, with a 30′ wide alley in between them, leading to an 5,500 sq ft plaza at SW 17th and Taylor.
Materials proposed for the tower include precast concrete, in various colors; an aluminum window wall system, with vision and spandrel glass; concrete balconies with structural glass guardrails; steel and glass canopies; and stone cladding at the base of the tower.
Material for the plaza building will include red brick, fiberglass windows, steel and glass canopies, and an exposed painted structural steel frame.
The half block site at 817 SW 17th Avenue will be an 8 story, 136’-6” tall office building, designed by GBD Architects. At the ground level the building will include 8,870 sq ft of retail space, fronting onto the westbound Providence Park MAX station. One level of underground parking will provide 40 vehicular parking stalls. An existing tunnel, built for the Oregonian, will provide a pedestrian connection from the larger underground parking garage at the full block site. At the ground level a bike storage and locker room will provide space for 124 bicycles. The 152,349 sq ft speculative office building is being designed to accommodate either a single occupant tenant, or multiple tenants.
At the 7th floor a carved out deck is proposed that would provide views to the north and west.
The half block office building will be clad in thin precast concrete panels, with honeycomb-backed metal panels and fiberglass windows.
The Press Blocks development was approved by a unanimous vote of the Design Commission at their May 4th meeting. Changes made since the project’s first design review hearing include: making the north and south elevations of the full block tower read as a more residential “punched window” expression; increasing the amount of circulation space for pedestrians in the mid-block alley; and revisions to the detailing of the office building at the ground floor storefronts and at the 7th floor deck. In the Final Findings and Decision by the Design Commission each of the buildings was praised for its composition:
Full Block. Each of the two buildings on the Full Block is a coherent composition of its own, distinct from one another by design parti, program, massing, material palettes and concept; yet unified through ground level building volumes, active uses and pedestrian amenities. The project proposes a high quality palette of materials to provide a range of visual experiences with materials of permanence. The Plaza Building is a solid, compact monolithic composition of punched openings in brick. The brick detailing proposed for the building adds a human-scale layer of texture evident at the ground level as well as from other public vantage points. A high-volume ground level accented with exposed steel detailing, double-height glazed aluminum storefront and a steel-clad side car component (2-level work-live units) conveys quality and permanence.
The Residential Tower Building features two-level recessed bays framed in metal plate with fixed wood benches covered by glass canopies which serve to reinforce pedestrian scale while adding visual interest. As the building ascends, elevation distinction is evident – staggered balcony and window placement on the west and east elevation evoke typeface, while the emphasized verticality of the north and south elevations evoke sheets of newsprint. Stone, cementitious panels, steel detailing, and aluminum storefront are proposed at the base of the Residential Tower Building to differentiate the pedestrian realm, with cementitious panels and aluminum window wall to accent the levels above.
As a composition, the buildings form a coherent full-block development unified via subtle ground level treatments – elements of streetscape design, bay dimensions, and similarly detailed ground-level openings framed in steel create an overall coherency for the project without making a monotonous matching block. Both buildings will include high quality detailing of light, small-scale steel elements such as window surrounds, railings and canopies.
Half Block. The Office Building is a restrained composition of limited materiality expressed as a partially eroded grid of vertical and horizontal precast concrete panels; honeycomb-backed metal panel infill that adds to the large window bays within the concrete framework; large fiber-glass and aluminum window systems; accent wood surrounds where the building breaks the frame, both at the ground floor and upper floor terraces. The relatively straightforward grid pattern is interrupted intermittently creating large window openings which intended to evoke a newspaper page’s type-face interspersed with images. The result is a rhythmic clarity and coherence that can be experienced from a pedestrian scale, as well as from distance in a larger urban context.
The approval of the project has now been appealed to City Council by the Goose Hollow Foothills League, the neighborhood association that includes the site. The hearing is scheduled for August 10th at 2pm. City Council will have the option of upholding or overturning the decision of the Design Commission. Assuming the decision is upheld, the project will also need to obtain building permits before work can begin on site.